The plaintiff in this open class shareholder action applied for a group costs order (GCO) under s 33ZDA of the Supreme Court Act 1986 (Vic) based on a sliding scale as follows:
|For each dollar of resolution sum that is recovered between:
|The applicable GCO percentage (incl GST) is:
$0 - $100 million
$100.1 million - $150 million
Over $150 million
As is common in such applications, the defendant took an essentially passive role; and the Court in this instance chose not to appoint a contradictor.
Justice Stynes granted the application in the terms sought. In summary, her Honour:
As may be apparent from my analysis set out above, based on the evidence available to me, I am satisfied that a GCO in the proposed form is appropriate to ensure justice is done in the proceeding for the following reasons:
(a) It provides a level of certainty as to the legal costs to be incurred which cannot be achieved through the hourly billing arrangement that is currently in place and that would continue if no GCO is made.
(b) It engenders simplicity and transparency to the costs payable and returns recoverable by the plaintiff and group members.
(c) It will likely serve to protect the group members, where the sum recovered is low, from disproportionately high legal costs.
(d) There is a real and not fanciful possibility that the lower rates of the GCO will be engaged and that group members will obtain a better financial outcome under the GCO.
(e) The proposed rate is appropriate having regard to the risks confronting the claims made, the risks to be assumed by Maurice Blackburn under the GCO and the reward it might reasonably expect in return for the assumption of those risks.
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